Project Appleseed Illinois event at Sparta, IL on 19 April 2014.  At 3 PM there was a volley by all shooters to honor those American Patriots who died on April 19, 1775, the day the American Revolution began.  Find out more about Project Appleseed by clicking this link.



Had a great time last week at Red Brush Range east of Evansville IN, shooting with the Project Appleseed folks at a KD.  KD stands for Known Distance, where we shoot at 100, 200, 300 and 400 yards using the old army qualification test of standing, standing to sitting, standing to prone, and prone.  You fire 10 rounds at each target and have 2 minutes, 55 seconds, 65 seconds and 5 minutes respectively to get your rounds on the target.

Here I am in prone taking my sighters at 200 yards.  This photo was taken off a video camera that had a program to age it so that is why it looks the way it does.

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Those Army silhouette D targets look small at 200 yards and even smaller at 400!

We also got to take sighters at 500 yards but with the wind that picked up just before that course of fire I am not sure I learned much other than my come ups from 400 to 500 yards.  I was shooting 69 gr Sierra BTHP bullets in a 1 in 9 twist barrel.  My final score for the shoot was a respectable 28/40.  Not at all bad for my very first KD.  32/40 is a Rifleman’s score.


Here is my scoring target from 400 yards. The guys in the pit take down your target and then mark or score your shooting on a green coat target like this one.  Here I got a score of 5/10.  I had one flyer and had four shots low in the 3, that doesn’t count at a KD.

I am really looking forward to the next KD.  If you love shooting and would love to learn how shoot better and learn some history of the American Rifleman, then Project Appleseed is for you!  For you southern Illinois folks, we have a shoot coming up in April at Marion  You can look here to see about signing up!

Took Friday off, it ended up raining anyway, and went over to St Louis to the NRA convention.  This is the first convention I have been to. I thought as a new life member I should take it in.  I have to say its the equivalent of the Louisville Farm Show for guns……just LOTS and lots to see and none of it work related.

First off I must apologize for the quality of the photos.  I used my phone because I didn’t want to take my camera and have an extra device to keep track of.  That was a mistake.  First, my phone camera had dust on the lenses from planting on Thursday and second, my battery died about half way through the day.  There were so many thing I wanted to take pictures of that I just couldn’t after the phone died.  Oh well.

So squint a little bit and maybe the pictures will be in focus……….

First I got to meet Frank W. James.  Frank is a now retired farmer and gun writer from northern Indiana.  His blog is one that I frequent pretty much daily and the link to it is here.  Great talking with Frank and making the introduction.

I hit the Rock River booth, makers of AR platforms and my favorate AR platform for a visit and fondling of the new products.

I also hit the Smith and Wesson booth and got to fondle the new (or new to me) M&P .22 pistol.  I am really leaning towards one of these if I can’t get my hands on a Tactical Solutions .22 conversion for my Glock.  I visited with the fine folks at Tactical Solutions on the Glock conversion and got to fondle it as well and I like it.  Trouble it no one has one to sell………….??  Back orders.

A quick stop by the Glock booth to see the Glock 20 10mm hand cannon and I got to see R Lee Ermey or “Gunny”.  The line was long for an autograph and picture so I snuck this one just before my camera went dead.

I grabbed this qucik picture of Ronnie Barrett designer of the infamous Barrett 50 cal rifle just as my phone went dead.

As withe Louisville Farm Show, you can’t see it all in one day or in one sitting.  Plus there are all the “special events” going on at each booth its hard to make it to them all as well.  I got to see bits and pieces of Tom Knaff talking, the boys from Shooting USA talk and sign stuff, Maj John Plaster and the those guys from that swamp people show.  But then again I didn’t get to spend a great deal of time at any one place to see exactly what they were saying or doing either.

All that being said, I enjoyed my first NRA convention thoroughly.  Well worth the worn out back and feet at the end of the day………I will be going back to another on real soon.


Lately I have seen a lot of discussion on Mossbergs new 464 “tactical” lever action rifle.  Frankly the discussion goes all over the place and most of it (discussion) is about useless.  I look at it and say why?  I mean is there really a market for that?

I have yet to think I needed a lever gun with a muzzle break, picatinny rail fore grip and a M4 style stock.

Then again I went to a recent gun show with my friend Randy and he spotted a double barrel shotgun with a picatinny rail under the barrels.  I didn’t even look at the thing let alone find out who made it.  Really?  A picatinny rail on a side by side coach gun?

What Cowboy Action is now shot in low light?

Again I don’t get it.

I guess I do get it, I mean in the age of marketing “tactical cool” you need a rail on everything.  I am sure there is somewhere an espresso maker made to mount on the rail of an M4.  If one where a true “operator” then I could see the need for such.  Rail, not espresso maker.  Yes I can even see the need for a light on a rifle or pistol but not all the other junk that folks hang there.

That being said Matthew and I went shooting Sunday for a while and we took our “tactical trail gun”.  The old short barreled Winchester 94 Trapper in 38/357.  No rail, no espresso maker, no light, no nothing.  Just fun to shoot.  And it didn’t even intimidate the cows in the background!  The old gun is a shooter.  I traded for this gun some 15 years ago.  I had a Smith and Wesson 617 9 shot in stainless with a 6 inch barrel and the other guy had this gun.  He wanted what I had and I wanted a Winchester 94.  I miss the old S&W 617 but have got more use and had more fun with the 94.

For a trail gun it works for us.  Its light enough to carry on a hike, can be loaded with bird shot or magnum loads and it sure seems quieter than the 617 when you shoot it.  And with out a rail and such it doesn’t look tactical………meaning it doesn’t draw much attention except for the few guys who slobber over it because its a 94.

I guess I will just take my lever guns plain, no “tactical cool” please.

“The more complex the mind the greater the need for simplicity of play.”  Capt James T Kirk

Its been a few days since I have had time to update my blog so I thought I would do so with a long post so “be warned those who enter here!”  With the level of activity and constant variety of jobs to be done I feel the need for simple play but there is no time right now it would seem.  Nor is there anyone who wants to play either.  This rain would normally indicate a time to stop and rest, but rain isn’t welcome right now because of the list of things that must be done is not getting any shorter.

The new shed/warehouse/shop has a concrete floor now.  The final pour happened yesterday and it looks truly beautiful.  Concrete will be a welcome departure from rock and asphalt.  The heat in the floor will be a welcome wonder for winter work that doesn’t seem to get done now because of the cold in the other shed.  There is still a lot of work to be done on the shed but its getting closer.


I got in one good day of soil sampling on 2012 ground this past week before I had to pull out and head to a Pioneer meeting.  The ground is sampling nice for the most part but is kind of funny in a way for March.  With the lack of snow and shallow freeze/thaw that we get here in southern Illinois in a normal winter the ground is very “fluffy” in a lot of areas.  That is dependent on if there was fall tillage done, but there is a good 3-4 inches of fluffy ground on most fields I have been on.

Everyone says they are ready to go to the field and plant corn, or so they say.  Yet I can gather that most don’t have their seed corn yet and they keep forgetting that its March and not April.  This very mild winter has got everyone mixed up and if it keeps this up till April I suspect we will see a lot of corn go in the ground sooner rather than later.

I did manage to slip in getting another field chisel plowed yesterday evening after I got back from my meeting.  The ground is hard in these wheat fields and its no wonder why.  The wet conditions last summer resulted in ruts from wheat harvest, double crop bean planting and from the bean harvest.  Its ground is packed tight!

A side note is that while the big tractor is working in the field, out of no where come these seagulls.  I have no clue where they came from. They are not hanging out around the farm anywhere, and the lake is several miles away.  Yet they seem to show up within minutes of the tractor going to the field and disappear just a quickly when I shut it down.  They don’t hang around.  Strange birds for sure.


BTW in case I didn’t gripe enough its week 2 without any acetylene yet………….

If all that wasn’t enough, we have also been trying to get details on the new business finalized.  That also isn’t getting done as fast as I want but it is going forward and we will be ready to go live soon, I hope.  I guess if I wasn’t so busy with everything else I could get that done as well.

Speaking of simple play. What has happened to my “gun” shows on the outside channels?  I mean even my favorites are not worth watching as of late on TV.   It seems that every show is now doing the same topic week after week.  I mean come on guys show me something new or original, not the same thing program after program with the same bad “experts” talking about and using the trendy words or latest fad in “tactical cool”.  I have no interest in hanging an espresso maker off my AR’s rail.

Worse yet some have fallen into this “prepper” mentality as well.  All I need is another show with the end of the word being  preppers or bunker preppers or salt and preppers or what ever, with some gun play involved.  First off your guys don’t have a clue, second you make gun owners look bad and three you can’t be for real.  I mean anyone who is so scared of the EOTWAWKI would not be on national TV or even a gun show showing the world what you have laid in for an emergency.

Nothing on TV at all anymore.

Simple is what I need, simple play.

The barn crew worked on our shed again today and we are now 3/4 roofed and 1/2 sided.  The mud is a problem for the lifts, but I hope that with a few more days of work that they will get it buttoned up.  Then the mud wont be an issue.  The biggest issue today was the wind……it picked up 10 sheets of roofing and knocked it off the lift and bent it.  New roofing wont be here until Wednesday now.


Over the weekend we got to shoot a Ruger LCP, the little .380 with a laser sight on it.  Man was I disappointed.  You can skip the laser because it is pretty much a belly gun at best.  I mean at best that’s all it is.  We had a terrible time hitting paper at 7 yards.  The double action trigger pull was horrid as well.  I guess I am spoiled with my Glock.

Got the new hitch put in the truck and got a new trailer on the way for the soil sampling rig.  Will have to make some mods when it gets here……but that being said it will be a very nice addition to the fleet for this summer.

I didn’t get to the farm show at Louisville this year but it seems like everyone else did…….. wasn’t able to get much accomplished last week work wise.  From what I hear, there was all kinds of expensive stuff there this year… its a good thing I didn’t go!

Now that the meeting schedule is pretty much down to one here and there I want to get cracking on soil testing work and getting equipment ready for farming the next few weeks.  My hope is my “to do” list gets a lot smaller the next seven to ten days!

Just returned from the Illinois Project Appleseed IBC.  IBC stands for Instructor Boot Camp.  The IBC is a training event to help mentor IIT’s (instructors in training) or Orange Hats to become qualified instructors or Red Hats.  There are five stages of IIT from IIT0 to IIT4.  I am currently an IIT2, so I have two more IIT progressions before I go for my Red Hat!

The weekend consist of reviewing and teaching the history and events of April 19, 1775 as well as polishing up on the marksmanship skills necessary to teach the shooting portion of an Appleseed weekend.  To become an IIT you first have to have attended at least two Appleseed weekend shoots and shoot Rifleman, a minimum score of 210 on the AQT (Army Qualification Test) that has a maximum score of 250.  Shooting Rifleman is not an easy task as a lot of experienced shooters think it might be.  It took me three Appleseeds and a lot of practice in between them to master the skills necessary to score above a 210.

Instruction was done by Dond, Master Shoot Boss and State Coordinator for Illinois.  Dond has a very unique way of approaching a COF (course of fire) for an Appleseed weekend that results in very high scores for the shooters by the end of the day.  Small group sessions were done by Red Hats or instructors and shoot bosses to help polish up the things that were taught by Dond.

I had the privilege to be in small groups with Red Hats Wurstmacher, Castle Mountain, Shooter 30-06 and Tornado.  These are not there real names but their “forum” names that they go by at the shoots.  All of these folks are very passionate about the history and shooting that goes into a Appleseed weekend.

Castle Mountain reviews some of the history and teaches how to deliver the important points during a breakout session


Shooter 30-06 goes over the retreat of the British Regulars from Concord or the “Third Strike” using his “battle road map” during small group time.

Woodl practices explaining the AQT and how each stage of the AQT is to be shot during a breakout session.

It was a great time, made a lot of new friends and learned a lot to help me be a better IIT and one day a Red Hat!

We have been doing a fair amount of shooting when the weather allows, with our .22 cal rifles.  Targets at 25 meters for the most part.  The result of four shooters shooting ten rounds at a time has proven a need for lots of ammo.  Its not uncommon to shoot 500 – 1000 rounds in a day or afternoon.

This quest for ammo has taken me to search out “good cheap .22 ammo“.  That animal doesn’t exist anymore.  I have purchased several big box store bulk packs lately and while some are better than others, most of it is junk.  You can tell this by two ways.

First is the inconsistent “crack” when the round goes off.  Some are a loud crack while others are so weak that you wonder if they will make it to the target just 25 meters away.  A couple of brands are worse than the others, but I have found that the Winchester bulk pack has the most consistent cracks it seems.

Second is the stove pipe jams or failure to feed.  With the Ruger 10/22 rifles we are shooting, some of the bulk pack stuff, including the Winchester, produces lots of failure to eject or feed, resulting in a jammed gun.  This is very annoying if not also an impediment to honing ones skills on a timed shoot.

Even after changing some springs, extractors and doing an action job on the rifles, they still will not shoot some of the bulk pack stuff.  What is really sad is that I have some bulk pack Remington from back in early 1990’s that was rat holed away that shoots EVERY TIME with consistent cracks and no failures to feed or eject whatsoever.

20 year old ammo is better than the new stuff.

The new bulk pack stuff also groups poorly in comparison to the old stuff.  Another sign that is not manufactured to any great tolerance or specifications.

I have tried some of the higher priced “premium” .22 like CCI and it is much better but the cost per round is scientifically more.  The cracks are consistent, the feeding problems go away and the groups are pretty tight so you are getting what you pay for.

Even better than the high priced hi velocity ammo is the sub sonic made by Winchester I picked up at the local gun shop just to try out.  Just a bit higher in price than the bulk packs, lower noise signature and it shoots, feeds and ejects and groups as good as, if not better than the premium .22.

That being said, its not .223 or .308, so its not like I have to take out a loan to buy 500 rounds.  It’s still a very cheap day of shooting for all four of us.  And if nothing else, all those failure-to-feed and eject problems are making for good training on how to quickly clear the gun and get back into action.

For .22 ammo as with everything else, you get what you pay for.

I read a story four or five years ago on a message board or magazine somewhere, I can’t remember where, about a guy who picked up every piece of spent brass (the fired brass cartridge casing) he would find.  The story was several pages long and it was funny as it could be, mainly because minus a detail or two, it sounded like me to a great extent.

He talked about picking up brass that his buddies left at the range, at the side of the road, at the bend in the road, that shooting spot in the middle of nowhere or wherever he saw it lying and no one claimed it.  The story also included a funny bit about finding a guy living in a house trailer in the middle of nowhere that had several oil drum barrels of spent .308 or .30-06 and how he tried to trade him out of it and ended up with one drum full.  He then later went back to try to trade or buy the rest of it and to his amazement the man, trailer and everything was gone from the property except the mail box.

I can’t recall a lot of the details of the story other than those, but I remember it was titled “Confessions of a Brass Hound” or “Hoarder” or “Hunter” or something like that.  It was funny.

I think everyone who shoots, picks up brass.  We can’t help it.  We either know someone who reloads and would want it or we reload and want it.  Even the calibers we don’t shoot we will pick up because we “might get a gun that would shoot it” in the future and we would already be a leg-up on components, saving us big bucks!  (Insert smiley face here)

About the time I read the article, I was working down in the southeastern part of the state in some “backroad” places and would be driving down some rock roads and find places where folks had be shooting into a creek bank or off a bridge or whatever, and I would stop and there would be brass everywhere.  I would get out and pickup .38, .45, 9mm, .357, .223, .22-550 and even the occasional .270 or .30-06.  I got to where I even made a loop over to the roads or bridges where I knew there was a good chance to find more brass since my last visit there if I was in the neighborhood.  Some days I would have a plastic grocery sack full of brass.

Needless to say it began to accumulate that summer.  I didn’t have a -06 or .270 or .45 so when I got “enough” I would sell it or trade it at the local gun shops for some components or .22 rim fire.  Everyone wanted brass.  It was worth a pretty penny and worth even more if I ran it through my tumbler before I tried to peddle it.  The other calibers I would keep because I either reloaded those or thought “I might get one” in the near future. Again it accumulated and those calibers that I “never did get” I would sell or trade off when the notion hit me.

Fast forward to this past week.

A buddy of mine got a .308 the other day and wanted to know if I had any brass.  I think he already knew the answer.  I had some “just in case”.  He wanted me to price it to him and after much consideration I did.  He said he would have to think about it.

Then he said no he would pass.

I couldn’t imagine that I had priced it too high, so on one of the days when I was out an about I stopped by a gun shop and was asking about reloading and brass and the guy behind the counter said he was interested in buying brass so I told him I had some .308.   What he said next shocked me.

“Not interested”.


I guess I must have turned white or something and he followed up quickly that “.308 shooters are not reloading these days” and that “they don’t want reloads or reloading components”.

.308 shooters in this area are not interested in shooting reloads or reloading?

I guess I just find that hard to believe but apparently it is true.  At least here “locally” the brass market for big calibers is dead.  I can’t imagine that they are not picking up their brass.  I can’t imagine that the economy is such that shooters are not considering reloading or stocking up on components.    Pistol brass is still a commodity.  .223 brass is a commodity.  But big caliber brass is dead.

I think if I get the chance I will make a loop one of these days back down to those back roads and bridges and see what people are shooting, if anything, by what brass is laying around.  And I will keep picking up brass because someone will want it or I will need it “just in case” despite what .308 shooters are doing here locally.

Over the Thanksgiving break, Matthew and I got to shoot a handgun that is about 90 – 100 years old or so.  It is a 1908 Pieper Bayard Pocket Pistol in .25 cal.  I guess more accurately, it is in 6.35 mm, as stamped on the slide or what we know as the.25 ACP.  This pistol is one of the more interesting guns I have handled from the standpoint of design and working of the action.

From what I could find out, this gun was manufactured in Belgium by the Pieper Company founded by  Henri Pieper.  Pieper was considered a pioneer of mass production of “sporting arms” in the late 1800’s.  It is, or was, one of the smallest pistols ever built for the caliber size ( assuming this meant .380 and .32) and suffered from heavy recoil (noted several times in readings).  The .25 was manufactured starting in 1912 with the .380 and .32 manufactured before that.

Here is some good summary reading on this firearm (mostly the .32) by Ed Buffaloe.  There is other good reading on the Bayard if you have the time, just Google Pieper Bayard and all kinds of things come up!!

I can tell you from Matthew’s and my point of view, it wasn’t all that pleasant to shoot in .25 either.  It has a very small grip and is hard for both Matthew and I to get our hands around (notice how small it is in Matthews hand below and in the top picture! (yea that’s my baby boys hand!)!) without either getting a finger in front of the barrel or getting pinched in the slide.

That isn’t to detract from the gun, or an indication I didn’t like shooting the gun, I just prefer something to hold onto when I present the gun at the target!  As a short range or belly gun, the Bayard would fulfill its role quite well during the time it was built.  I just prefer to shoot my targets at greater than arms length!!!

The pistol is small and heavy (as already noted) with the frame milled from one chunk of steal and the slide from another.  The barrel is actualy part of the frame right above the trigger and not in the slide as most modern American handguns are.  It is a simple blow back design.

To dissemble the piece, remove the magazine and insure that the gun is unloaded by visual inspection of the chamber.  Then  you push, then pull back and up on the front sight.  This allows the recoil spring and follower to be removed.

Once the spring and follower are out you pull the slide all the way to the rear and then simply lift up off the frame.  At this point you have field stripped the gun.

This particular one had been repaired as noted by the brazing done to the recoil spring housing.  ( I have no idea if that is the correct term or not……..I am just a farm boy who likes to shoot, not an armorer!)

This particular gun belongs to a relative and  suffered from stove piping.  I got to shoot it and bring it home to clean it up and see if I could fix it.  A good deep cleaning and inspection revealed that the ramp was scared a had some burrs on it as well as the extractor having carbon buildup.  After a bit of polishing with the Dremel tool on the ramp, oiling and reassembly, the gun worked almost flawlessly.  I say almost as we did have one more stove pipe but were able to run multiple magazines of 50 gr Aguila .25 auto through it without stoppage.

So we got to fire a piece of history as well as learn some history over Thanksgiving break.  Plus we got to get that history back up and running for its owner…….pretty cool.


Wow what a long week and it ain’t over yet!  This weekend is the fall version of the Knob Creek machine gun shoot and I am having withdrawals because farm activities have a priority over seeing things shot and blown up.   There is always YouTube but until they invent the scratch and sniff YouTube, its not the same!

Last Friday I finished up planting wheat.  I wanted to no till the wheat into the corn stalks but it was just too tough to do so.  Ended up disking the stalks once and then rolling them with the crumbler before drilling.  Worked pretty good and I can row the wheat out the window of the house this morning.  It was dusty, not as bad as last year but dusty, and that is a good sign to plant wheat into.

Corn harvest resumed and I hit some of the June replant corn and as I suspected it sucked.  The replant corn is making about 70 bu less an acre than the May planted corn.  My average is taking a big hit right now but we will see where we end up.  50 acres of corn left, not enough bin space to hold it all and I still have a few contracts to fill so it will be a balancing act between hauling it and filling the bins.

Over the weekend we went to the Marion Appleseed shoot and Matthew and Lori greatly improved their scores.  Matthew came from double digits to well into the triple digits while Lori is knocking on the Rifleman score.  She shot into the 200’s several times just missing Rifleman by a few points each time.  I need to do some tuning to her rifle, she is getting a bunch of stovepipe jams that I feel kept her from making Rifleman.  Then we will practice for the November shoot and see what she can do then!

As far as repairs go, the Cat is up on blocks and one track is off along with all the other hardware and I am ready to go back together with it.  Need to get this done ASAP as I have dirt work that needs to be done in preparation for a new shed to be built.  We got the grain bin fan back from Sander Electric and it needs to be re-installed so we can pump some air through some of this corn.  Aeration is important!

And in case I didn’t say it somewhere else in this post:  I AM MISSING KNOB CREEK  (crying and gnashing of teeth)

Some photo credits to Mudcat

Spent two days, OK one solid day and one off-and-on day in the rain at Carmi Gun Club for an Project Appleseed shoot put on by the RWVA.  (I have have numerous posts about Appleseed and they can be viewed here.)   Carmi Gun Club is a great host to say the least, and they proved it again this year by going to town in the pouring rain to pick up lunch orders for the participants.  They have a very nice range that is very clean and very user friendly.  (Two thumbs up again Carmi for hosting a great event!!!)

Again, it was just a great two days, even if it rained. A day shooting is a good day no matter what the weather!  We were able to shoot from under one of the small shelters. We were out of the pouring rain for the most part but still got wet (this was Saturday before the rain hit).


Once again Mudcat and XDman put on great instruction. And again, the kids were treated so well and instructed with an emphasis on not only improving their shooting, but in teaching the history of April 19, 1775.  To me the attention that the kids get and the historical perspective are what make this event so enjoyable for me.

Saturday was mostly instruction in the shooting positions and a lot of history of 1775.  The comment from Mudcat was that we were being fed with a fire hose and that seemed to be true, at least from the ones that rode over from Benton with me.  But everyone commented on the ride home how good the instruction was and how much they learned.

Sunday in the pouring rain there were 3 Riflemen made before lunch.  I shot Rilfleman on the second AQT (Army Qualification Target) of the day and shortly there after we had two more guys shoot Rifleman as well.  Here I am on my way back with my target I scored Rifleman with, hoping it didn’t fall apart in the rain before it was scored.

Then as the day ended we had one of the two women on the line shot Rifleman as well.  Here she is being presented her Rifleman patch in the pouring rain.


The biggest thing is that all the scores improved throughout the day with even the smallest of shooters getting better with each round.  Great instruction, great history, a great host in Carmi Gun Club and 4 Rifleman patches were awarded. I would say that is a pretty good day on the range!

Things are moving slow.  Corn is not drying down very fast, if at all it seems.  Working on odds and ends between trying to haul some corn out and it doesn’t seem like I am getting much accomplished.  

So between odd jobs I have been trying to collect up all the necessary kit for going to shoot the Appleseed at Carmi this weekend which has been slow as well because I cant find where I put some of the stuff so I wouldn’t loose it!

I need to get the grain drill took apart and washed and put back together so I can grease it before I drill wheat and I need to take the wheels off my ATV trailer and get the bearing repacked before I pull it down the road anymore.

I realize that very soon it will be busy around here but right now its just slow.

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